Professor Uri Shanas
Professor Uri Shanas heads organisation targeting to buy up 1.4% of earth to protect plant and animal species facing extinction.

University of Haifa's Professor Uri Shanas has launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy 1.4% of earth to turn the land into nature resorts to save plant and animal species that are on the brink of extinction.

He is proposing to create an organisation called This is My Earth or TiME, which is open to everyone at a starting cost of $1 per year. Prof Shanas is currently a visiting researcher at the Portland State University of Oregon

Members will vote each year on where to invest the money, choosing from a list of "hot zones" of biological diversity that will be drawn up by an international team of scientists.

On its crowdfunding website, Professor Shanas said: "We are deeply concerned by the inability of existing actions and organisations to halt the sharp decline in global biodiversity."

He distinguished TiME from other organisations that are already involved in land purchasing, saying that it offers several innovative concepts. They include:

  • a $1 minimum membership fee;
  • a right to vote on where the money will be invested, making the organisation a democratic conservation movement;
  • an assurance that 100% of membership money will go towards land purchase as against personnel salaries or other expenses; and
  • a wide range of professional volunteers to help in directing monies where land conservation are most pressing.

He said given that most of the world's hotspots are in poor countries, the organisation will allow members to fund the membership of residents from low-income countries.

The professor was seeing $25,000 (£15,921, €21,671) to build the website and infrastructure and to pay the salary of a web manager to maintain, build and promote the site during the first year of operation.

It will then decide on whether to either continue with its own set of volunteers or get an established international organisation like a United Nations agency to support the maintenance of the website.

"Additional money raised in this campaign beyond our $25,000 will go to land purchasing. In case we do not reach our goal, your money will be refunded."

There are however no worries on this score. As of 26 August morning, a total of $32,082 has been raised from 666 funders.

In an update on the crowdfunding website, Dr Shanas said the organisation will "be able to present you with a 'dream team' that will help us move forward to become a viable, influential conservation organisation with maximum confidence and competence."

He hopes to bring the TIME website online within two to three months and the process of identifying possible habitats that might be bought is already underway. "We can soon have our first 'pilot' vote and acquisition as part of this initial phase in TiME's launch," he added.